Operation Praying Mantis
On 14 April 1988, watchstanders aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) sighted three mines floating approximately one-half mile from the ship. Twenty minutes after the first sighting, as Samuel B. Roberts was backing clear of the minefleld, she struck a submerged mine nearly ripping the warship in half. Working feverishly for seven hours, the crew stabilized the ship. Samuel B. Roberts was sent back to the United States for repair.
Three days after the mine blast, forces of Joint Task Force Middle East executed the American response -- Operation PRAYING MANTIS. During a two-day period, the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force units of Joint Task Force Middle East destroyed two oil platforms being used by Iran to coordinate attacks on merchant shipping, sank or destroyed three Iranian warships and neutralized at least six Iranian speedboats.
Operating in conjunction with USS WAINWRIGHT (CG 28) and USS BAGLEY (FF 1069), USS SIMPSON (FFG-56) was assigned to the strike on the Iranian oil platform at Sirri, and shelled the platform. In response, the Iranian Navy missile patrol combatant JOSHAN approached the three U.S. ships. When JOSHAN was warned to stand clear, she responded by firing a Harpoon missile at the group. SIMPSON was the first ship to return fire, striking JOSHAN with the first of four successful missiles she fired that day. After JOSHAN was disabled by missile fire, she was sunk by gunfire. As a result of that action, SIMPSON and her crew were awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award and the Combat Action Ribbon, along with numerous personal awards received by individual crew members.
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